Thousands of students have made trips up and down the hallways of Goldsboro High School.
So has at least one car and a man who went on to become an entertainment icon.
Those are some of the stories that someone with hearing good enough to pierce the din of 50 Goldsboro High School Earthquakes classmates maybe could have overheard Saturday at the group’s monthly lunch at Wilber’s Barbecue.
“I understand one group took the doors, I believe it was on the east side of the building, one day after school,” said Pat Shumate Batten, Class of 1959, the unofficial spokesman for the group. “They drove a Volkswagen Bug up and down the hall. I believe it was (principal) Mr. (C.W.) Twiford who made them clean the floor in the hallway, the tire tacks, with toothbrushes.
“That was after me. It was in the ’60s. It was just a fun place to be. We had stunt nights all the classes participated in to see who could out-do the other.”
Batten’s father, Harry Shumate, is a Goldsboro High School graduate as is her son, Ven Faulk, who is now a school board member, and her daughter, Suzanne Faulk.
“It got to be a family tradition,” she said. “It was a neat time to go to school.”
Frances Allen, Class of 1956, met her future husband, Bert Allen, Class of 1957, when they were both in band.
Allen, who died last year, was one of the first in the band to play the big tuba. She was a majorette and played the clarinet in concert. Rather, she said, she attempted to play.
“The majority of us in high school at that time grew up together, grade school on,” Allen said. “We just remained close friends even today. Our principal, Mr. Twiford, he was very strict, but you respected him, and he was very caring at the same time.
“He was a very strong father figure, I thought.”
Allen said she enjoys attending the Saturday gathering because it is like a family reunion as well as a connection to having grown up in the 1950s compared to the way things are now. Her husband enjoyed it as well.
There is so much history at the school, Allen said.
Before becoming a well-known entertainer, Andy Griffith taught at the school for several years in the 1940s and was one of her brother’s teachers.
Griffith left the school the spring before she entered high school, so he was never one of her teachers, but his first wife, Barbara, was her junior choir director at St. Paul Methodist Church.
Griffith was choir director at First Baptist Church, she said.
“He got $14 a week,” Allen said. “They have one of his canceled checks.”
Allen said that when she got up Saturday morning, it was so dreary that she thought about not getting out.
“Then the more I thought if you don’t get up and get out, then you are not going to do anything the rest of the day that’s worthwhile,” she said. “I thought as I was coming out the back door that this gives people something to look forward to do that they are part of and they feel comfortable coming to with no obligation.”
The classes represented at the meal spanned decades from 1969 back to the 1940s.
As classmates came in, they went over to a table set up with small plastic bins with name tags organized by year.
The school’s athletic teams were known as the Earthquakes up until 1970 when the school consolidated with Dillard High School and became the Cougars, Batten said.
“Every now and then we have 1970s come in here for lunch and they say, ‘We were Earthquakes longer than we were Cougars.’ So we said, ‘You are welcome, come on in,’” Batten said.
Batten said she has been unable to find out how the name Earthquakes came about or when.
A school paper referred to the Lady Quakes basketball team in 1937, and in the 1920s the football team was the Boll Weevils, she said.
The classmates have been meeting for about eight years on the last Saturday of the month at Wilber’s at 12:30 p.m. for lunch and fellowship. Classmates backed the gathering time to 11:30 a.m. so they could visit first.
“We have not missed a Saturday,” she said. “Rain, sleet, snow — rain, rain, rain — we are still here. What happens if it is a holiday? What’s our saying?”
With one voice they all said, “If Wilber’s is open, we’ll be here.”
In June about eight years ago, Batten saw a note, she thinks on Facebook, asking if any Earthquakes were interested in having lunch together at Wilber’s.
Batten said the classmate organized the meeting that June, which she and her husband, Harold, attended.
“The only problem was they said let’s come back and do it again in July,” she said. “Harold and I said we had to go on a mission trip. We will be in Montana, but we will be back in August. We came back in August, and the fellow who organized it hasn’t been since.
“So we all got tickled and sat down that August, and Jean (Barwick) and I decided we are going to come out here and eat on the last Saturday of every month at 12:30 even if it was just us eating.”
It has grown from being 14 people to one meeting attended by at least 115 classmates spread across two rooms.
“We just quit counting,” Batten said.
It now averages about 50 and has turned into an interesting, warm gathering, Batten said.
Batten said that was especially true for her since she knows most everyone by their first names, even those from other classes that came before and after hers.
“You are in other classes, but classes don’t matter anymore because we are all Earthquakes,” she told the group. “We all graduated before 1970.”
There are no bylaws, no dues, no officers.
As she welcomed the classmates, Batten jokingly warned them to be on their best behavior and to use the “nice words” they learned at Goldsboro High School.
She also told them there were two cards that needed to be signed.
“The only reason I do this is because I have the loudest mouth,” she said. “Who said amen? And I don’t need a microphone. I was trained well by Clifton Britton (the school’s drama coach).
“And any of you trained by Clifton know that if the man on the back row can’t hear you, then there is no reason to say it. I learned to speak to people on the back row.”
Batten asked for a show of hands for first-timers.
There were none.
“You are all old-timers,” she said.
Starting with the class of 1969 and counting down, she asked how many classmates there were from each class stopping at the Class of 1948.
“None of you are any older than that?” she said.
It is important to keep in touch, Batten said.
“Where do you think they would be if they were not here right now?” she said. “When you get to a certain age and a certain group there are clubs. But this doesn’t require you to come, and they come, and they get in their groups in here, and they thoroughly enjoy meeting.
“Sometimes we have eight or nine cards for shut-ins, for those having grief. It is has become a camaraderie. The majority of them in here are tight. Probably the majority of people in here, I didn’t know their first name. They were much younger than me or whatever. We have become pals. It’s fun to keep up with them now. I get phone calls, emails.”
Following her class’s 50-year reunion, Batten said she had a lot of time on her hands, so she started updating emails for her classmates. There were 214 in her class.
About six months after the reunion, she received a call from a classmate asking her to let the other classmates know he had cancer and to pray for him.
Just a few weeks later, he called back and said he was overwhelmed at the number of cards and emails he had received.
His call was followed by several similar requests, so she started sending out emails whenever something came up.
People began to ask about the email that has since grown into a newsletter sent out to more than 600. She includes information about deaths, sickness and news about the classmates.
The classmates also have a closed Facebook page, Goldsboro High School Earthquakes.
Linwood Cherry, Class of 1959, pulls out his old-style flip phone, after Batten jokes he can’t get the newsletter because he refuses to have a computer.
“I send his emails to his daughter,” she said. “If it is important, she goes and tells him.”
Cherry said he enjoys the monthly get-together.
In 2016, Cherry had just returned home after undergoing heart surgery.
The classmates were signing a card to send him when he came walking in, Batten said.
“His daughter had to bring him,” she said. “He wasn’t allowed to drive.”
“I love every one of the Goldsboro High Schoolers,” Cherry said.
Saturday’s lunch included a test of sorts based on information taken from the school’s 1940 newspaper
“Whatever you do, don’t whistle,” Batten said. “Our hearing aids, the whistles are dramatic. Some of the most fun you can have if you are old is go online and look at some of the Goldsboro High newspapers.
“I thought it was fun to read because I thought I wonder if anybody in the school knew the answers.”
The classmates were asked the location of the cornerstone — the southwest corner of the auditorium; the number on it — 1926, the year construction started; the number of steps on the inside stairs — 24; and the number of windows facing Beech Street — 51.
And with the test and meal complete, and photos taken, the group dispersed as quickly as it had gathered.